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Family of Gillian Metcalf pleased as pilots Raimundo Nobnato Lima and Mailson Gomes to be prosecuted over Rio Negro Amazon boat death

By Tricia Jamieson

The family of a mother killed in Brazil have welcomed news that two boat pilots involved are to be prosecuted.

Lawyer Gillian Metcalf, 50, died when a boat she and her husband and daughters were travelling in collided with another vessel on the Rio Negro.

Her husband Charlie Metcalf, of Plummer Lane, Tenterden, has been fighting for justice for her and last month travelled to Brazil with one of his daughters to press their case.

Gillian Metcalf, mother of two from Tenterden, in Brazil on the day before she died
Gillian Metcalf, mother of two from Tenterden, in Brazil on the day before she died

Now he has been told that the pilots of both boats will be prosecuted for manslaughter.

“The girls and I are delighted and a little comforted,” he said. “Now we have to finish the job.

“Our fear was that only one pilot would be prosecuted, while we always felt that our pilot was more to blame.

“The fear was that he would not be prosecuted, but now we have been told both pilots will be.”

Mr Metcalf said that, with Brazil hosting the World Cup from next month, he thought pressure had been put on the authorities.

An article in the Sunday Times two weeks ago quoted Kevin Miles, chief executive of the UK’s Football Supporters Federation, warning fans of the dangers of river travel.

Charlie Metcalf and daughter Natasha
Charlie Metcalf and daughter Natasha

“That carried some weight in Brazil,” said Mr Metcalf.

“Now there is some progress. It is amazing that, all of a sudden, this has happened.

“I think with the World Cup coming, the authorities have been pressured into making this decision – they want to get it out of the way.

“We are all delighted. This is a big thing for us.

“We would like to thank the Kentish Express for their support which has been invaluable and really kicked things off.”

Mr Metcalf said that he hoped safety on the river would be improved not just for tourists but for locals.

The Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon
The Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon

“A lot of football fans will be using it during the World Cup, but the locals have to use it all the time,” he said. “They have no choice. We want it improved for their safety.

“The pilots have to understand that if they drive recklessly, there will be repercussions.”

Mr Metcalf is waiting to hear if he will be required to attend the court proceedings.

He added: “I will do all in my power to assist including returning to Brazil.”

“We are all delighted. This is a big thing for us" - Charlie Metcalf

He, his wife and their daughters Natasha, 20, and Alice, 18, were in a boat heading towards the hotel Juma Jungle Lodge in Rio Preto da Eva last September.

It was being piloted by Raimundo Nonato Lima when it collided with another boat piloted by Mailson Gomes. Mrs Metcalf died instantly.

Court papers said that both boats were speeding at the time.

A 200-page report referred to human error and negligence on the part of both pilots.

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